In today's study, we find Paul addressing the Ephesian elders in his final farewell, warning them of the wolves that would come in after his departing, acknowledging that he would never see them again and that he was prepared for whatever awaited him in Jerusalem upon his arrival.
Paul knew that they were going to be attacked after he left, but not from the outside, but from within. I believe he is referring to the unbelieving Jews. Also, the words enter in among you seem to imply that this would not be a full-frontal assault, but an infiltration.
I have no doubt that this is the case when it comes to church life as that it usually always comes from within. They enter is sit, smile, greet, and then start subverting everyone that they can. The word subvert means to undermine.
Notice that they, from within again, will speak perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. The word perverse means to distort, corrupt, or misinterpret.
With that said, the church today is simply not teaching doctrine, everything else, but not doctrine. One pastor said it this way. "Even though I had been reared in a denominational system, I eventually realized I had been taught very little doctrine. I had been taught about my Baptist religion, that Christ died for my sins, sin in my life would keep me from having a good relationship with God, to attend church regularly, to abstain from doing many things (don’t smoke, don’t chew and don’t go with the girls that do), to give my tithes, and to witness to the lost. All of these things were supposed to make me a better Baptist, a better Christian. Furthermore, I had not been taught how to study, the unique ministry of Paul, the mystery, about the body of Christ, the difference between the gospel Peter preached and the gospel Paul preached, that there were different inheritances (heavenly and earthly), and how to rightly divide the word of truth."
VERSE 31: Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears. He is saying, in lieu of the wolves that will come, watch, and remember. Watch for them and remember what I taught you in regard to these inevitable dangers that will come.
Timewise, Paul spent more time with the Ephesians was the longest of his ministry. And he says that during that time he ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears. The word warn means to set in place, put in mind, to caution, reprove, or admonish.
VERSE 32: And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified. Finally, Paul commends them to God, and to the word of his grace for two reasons. 1. That it might build them up, and 2. give them an inheritance among all them which are sanctified. Again, I believe the context is Jews to whom the inheritance will be given. Remember that the Jews are heirs of the covenants of promise, not the Gentiles. Instead, we are the heirs according to the promise and not according to the Law.
VERSE 33: I have coveted no man's silver, or gold, or apparel. Paul is saying that he did not do it for the silver, gold, or apparel. We see this all throughout Paul's ministry: 2Cor 12:14 and 1Cor 9:12-15.
Notice that Paul included apparel with silver and gold. Bullinger says that it expresses stateliness more so than himation (a type of clothing worn by ancient Greeks).
VERSE 34: Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me. We know from previous verses that Paul used his tentmaking skills to support himself (Acts 18:3; 1Cor 4:12; 1Th 2:9; 2Th 3:8).
VERSE 35: I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive. Now Paul says that he has shown them not only by instruction but by example all things. Again, I believe this refers to the fact that Paul supported himself through his trade instead of relying on others to support him so that he could minister to them without charge, i.e., more blessed to give than receive.
VERSES 36-38: And when he had thus spoken, he kneeled down, and prayed with them all. (37) And they all wept sore, and fell on Paul's neck, and kissed him, (38) Sorrowing most of all for the words which he spake, that they should see his face no more. And they accompanied him unto the ship. Obviously, there was a tremendous love both ways between Paul and the Ephesians. Remember in Acts 20:22-25, he told them what was awaiting him in Jerusalem and they would not see him again as a result. It would be his brethren that would do this to him. Why? Because what Paul preached was an indictment against them.
Barnes points out three things from these verses. (1) The parting of ministers and people is a most solemn event and should be one of much tenderness and affection. (2) The effect of true religion is to make the heart more tender; to make friendship more affectionate and sacred, and to unite more closely the bonds of love. (3) Ministers of the gospel should be prepared to leave their people with the same consciousness of fidelity and the same kindness and love which Paul evinced. They should live such lives as to be able to look back upon their whole ministry as pure and disinterested, and as having been employed in guarding the flock, and in making known to them the whole counsel of God. So parting, they may separate in peace; and so living and acting, they will be prepared to give up their account with joy, and not with grief.
VERSES 1-2: And it came to pass, that after we were gotten from them, and had launched, we came with a straight course unto Coos, and the day following unto Rhodes, and from thence unto Patara: (2) And finding a ship sailing over unto Phenicia, we went aboard, and set forth. So now after Paul leaves the elders in Ephesus, he heads to Jerusalem.
VERSES 3-5: Now when we had discovered Cyprus, we left it on the left hand, and sailed into Syria, and landed at Tyre: for there the ship was to unlade her burden. (4) And finding disciples, we tarried there seven days: who said to Paul through the Spirit, that he should not go up to Jerusalem. (5) And when we had accomplished those days, we departed and went our way; and they all brought us on our way, with wives and children, till we were out of the city: and we kneeled down on the shore, and prayed. These disciples warn Paul through the Spirit that he should not go up to Jerusalem. The question is, was Paul being disobedient to the Spirit? He is going to be warned again in v.11. I don't believe so, Paul already stated in Acts 20:22-24 that the Holy Spirit told him to go. I believe this is a case of we have to do what we believe that the Lord wants us to do regardless of what others say. Now, I don't believe these others were necessarily wrong. They were clearly led by the Spirit in what awaited Paul, but apparently, it is what God wanted for Paul. In the end, we have to do what God tells us to do (1Ki 13:1-24).
VERSES 6-8: And when we had taken our leave one of another, we took ship; and they returned home again. (7) And when we had finished our course from Tyre, we came to Ptolemais, and saluted the brethren, and abode with them one day. (8) And the next day we that were of Paul's company departed, and came unto Caesarea: and we entered into the house of Philip the evangelist, which was one of the seven; and abode with him. These verses are just a review of Paul's travel. Notice Luke is writing in the first person. Philip the evangelist was one of the original deacons from Acts 6. This is the same Philip who ministered to the Ethiopian eunuch on the road to Gaza in Acts 8.
VERSE 9: And the same man had four daughters, virgins, which did prophesy. Bear in mind that we are still around 60AD and prophesy had not ceased (1Cor 13:8).
VERSES 10-11: And as we tarried there many days, there came down from Judaea a certain prophet, named Agabus. (11) And when he was come unto us, he took Paul's girdle, and bound his own hands and feet, and said, Thus saith the Holy Ghost, So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man that owneth this girdle, and shall deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles. Here another prophet is warning Paul about going to Jerusalem, but he wasn't telling Paul anything he did not already know. Some identify this Agabus with Acts 11:28.
Notice that his message to Paul is simply what was going to happen to him once he arrives and did not try to stop him like the ones in v.4. So, obviously, Paul had to go for this to happen.
VERSES 12-14: And when we heard these things, both we, and they of that place, besought him not to go up to Jerusalem. (13) Then Paul answered, What mean ye to weep and to break mine heart? for I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus. (14) And when he would not be persuaded, we ceased, saying, The will of the Lord be done. Now those around Paul begin to beg him not to go to Jerusalem, but he does not yield and was content to allow the Lord's will to be done. It is obvious that Paul did the right thing when we read Acts 23:11.